If you’ve been struck by a disability that restricts your capacity to work and earn a livelihood, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be an invaluable lifeline. This insurance program, administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), provides financial assistance to individuals who become disabled, provided they meet specific criteria set forth by the said government agency.
Hence, when claiming SSD benefits, it’s crucial to understand the requirements, the process, and the timeframe to avoid any unexpected issues or delays. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to claim these benefits in the United States.
Determine Your Eligibility
Before applying, it’s necessary to ascertain whether you’re eligible to claim SSDI benefits. The SSA has stringent criteria for determining disability. The main requirements include:
- The applicant has a medical condition that significantly limits their ability to perform basic activities, such as walking, sitting, or remembering.
- The condition has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. .
- The applicant is under retirement age and has a sufficient work history in jobs covered by Social Security.
Moreover, the applicant should also show that they’re unable to engage in a substantial gainful activity (SGA), which refers to the level of work activity and earnings. Work is considered substantial if it entails significant mental or physical activities and is performed for pay or profit.
Calculations should be made to know whether you’re making a substantial gainful activity. There are different factors to consider in this process. These include the number of hours worked, the nature of work, and the individual’s earnings. However, you can contact a dedicated lawyer for assistance if you need clarification on your SGA computation.
On the other hand, if you meet all the eligibility requirements mentioned above, you can easily apply for SSDI benefits.
Gather Necessary Documentation
If you’re eligible to claim disability benefits, the next step is to prepare the necessary paperwork. You’ll need to provide comprehensive information, including:
- Personal Information: These include your Social Security number, birth certificate, and names and Social Security numbers of spouse and minor children, if any.
- Medical Evidence: This includes detailed records from all medical sources, including doctors, hospitals, therapists, etc. This should comprise diagnoses, treatment history, and other relevant medical information.
- Work and Education History: This includes detailed information about the last 15 years of work, education, and training.
Gather these necessary documents before applying to avoid hassle and speed up the process.
Submit The Application
You can apply for the benefits once the necessary information and documents are ready. The SSA offers some ways to apply. For instance, the most convenient method is through the SSA’s online Disability Benefits Application. This enables you to complete the application at your own pace and from the comfort of your home.
On the other hand, you can apply by phone by calling the SSA’s toll-free number. You can also schedule an in-person appointment at the local Social Security office. This method is helpful if you need assistance with your application.
Await The Decision
Once the application is submitted, it goes through a review process. This involves several steps:
- Initial Review: The SSA reviews the application to ensure all requirements are met. If anything needs to be added, you’ll be asked to provide the essentials to process the application successfully.
- Medical Evaluation: A state agency will thoroughly review the medical evidence. They might ask for additional tests or exams, which the SSA will pay, to determine your eligibility for disability benefits.
- Final Decision: After the medical evaluation, the SSA will make a final decision. This can take three to five months, although complex cases may take longer. You’ll receive the decision by mail.
If your application is approved, you’ll begin receiving benefits during the first day of the sixth month after your disability occurred. However, it’s essential to know that the benefits you’ll get may depend on some factors, such as the severity of your disability or work history.
Request A Reconsideration If Necessary
If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision. This process, known as ‘reconsideration,’ involves a complete review of the claim by someone who didn’t take part in the initial decision. If you decide to appeal the decision, you must submit new evidence or arguments during this process. If the decision is in your favor, you’ll get the benefits you deserve.
While the process to claim Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may seem complex and intimidating, you can simplify it by understanding the steps involved. By keeping the information mentioned above in mind, you’ll know what to do to claim such benefits.
Also, it’s important to remember that help is available. You can work with a dedicated lawyer to assist you with the initial application or the appeal process. As a result, you can improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome.